The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover. Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red eyering. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around right after hatching. The killdeer frequently uses a ''broken wing act'' to distract predators from the nest.
Their breeding habitat is open fields or lawns, often quite far from water, across most of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, with isolated populations in Costa Rica and in the Pacific coast of South America. Killdeer nest on open ground, often on gravel. They may use a slight depression in the gravel to hold the eggs, but they do not line it at all, or line it only with a few stones. Since there is no structure to stand out from its surroundings, a Killdeer nest blends marvelously into the background. Furthermore, the speckled eggs themselves look like stones. Like many other waders, Killdeer hatchlings are precocial birds and are able to see and forage soon after hatching
They are migratory in northern areas and winter as far south as northern South America. They are rare vagrants to western Europe, usually late in the year.
These birds forage for food in fields, mudflats, and shores, usually by sight. They mainly eat insects.